Everyone knows they can turn to HR for questions about anything and everything, from job responsibilities to employee benefits, career development opportunities to remote work policies. As an HR leader, a single day may have you handling any number of talent needs, including:
- Recruiting, onboarding, and offboarding
- Training and development
- Payroll and timekeeping
- Tracking vacation and sick days
- Local labor laws compliance
- Employee wellbeing
Many of these duties require paperwork, which can leave you with a desk full of papers if you are not careful. This is where HR automation comes in. Automation can help HR managers spend less time on monotonous tasks and more time on decision-making that impacts the overall success of the organization and its employees.
So what is HR automation, what are the benefits, and how can you implement it in your company? Let’s dive in.
What Is HR Automation?
HR process automation is when companies use software to automate and streamline the repetitive tasks HR handles. This includes onboarding, performance tracking, timekeeping, and many other processes that are tedious and time-consuming when done manually.
The goal of HR automation is to improve the efficiency of HR departments and free up more time for them to focus on complex tasks like strategizing and people-oriented tasks like offering support to new hires. Digitizing and automating repetitive tasks not only allows HR to focus on decision-making and strategizing ways to improve company culture and employee engagement, but it also reduces costs and time spent on manual HR processes. Organizations have reduced material and labor costs when repetitive HR responsibilities are moved online and automated by the latest software.
Although the switch from manual to automated processes can take some time and adjustments, the results are well worth the effort. HR departments that leverage automation experience increased productivity and added value to the company when they have more time to focus on complex tasks.
There are many different options available for HR automation software, and each comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. Some of the most popular solutions include:
- SAP SuccessFactors
No matter which software your company uses, you can make the most out of these by automating everything from timesheets and leave requests to employee benefits and performance tracking. This will ensure that your HR department is not left behind as more and more processes become automated.
Why Automate HR Processes?
Automation software makes it easier for HR managers to streamline and integrate services that employees rely on, all with greater speed and lower costs. Let’s take a look at several of these advantages in greater detail so you can evaluate if and how your organization would benefit from these systems.
Reduce the Occurrence of Errors
Many of the tasks that HR traditionally handles involve data entry and paperwork. When done manually, there is a greater risk of errors or documents being lost. HR automation means there is less chance of errors when verifying employee timesheets and calculating payroll. Since the documents can all be stored electronically in the same place, automating HR also means you will be able to find the information you need when you need it.
Monotonous tasks tend to be a lower priority when there are important presentations or meetings to worry about. Paperwork for things like leave requests that need manager approval can get lost in the shuffle or bottleneck at one step in the process. With HR automation, data processing and data sharing are streamlined, and repetitive tasks can be quickly moved through their processes.
Improve Candidates’ and Employees’ Experience
The HR department is typically the first interaction that candidates and new employees have with a company. If these interactions are slowed down by inefficient communication and data processing, it can negatively impact the view that candidates and employees have of the organization as a whole. Fortunately, automating HR tasks allows HR managers to quickly follow up with candidates. This often leads to increased employee engagement and reduced turnover.
Cut Down on Waste
Handling paperwork manually can result in excessive paper use and exorbitant printing costs. Moving these processes online with automation means your organization can use less paper, which leads to reduced cost of materials and reduced storage costs. Onboarding and maintaining employee records takes a lot of time and wastes paper if it is handled manually, but HR automation can drastically reduce this waste.
Improve Transparency, Consistency, and Security
Not only does automation improve efficiency, but it also results in greater consistency with processes throughout the organization. HR can generate insightful reports that encourage better decisions, employees can easily manage their benefits, and managers can submit accurate expense reports all with the use of HR automation software. With more transparency around both benefits and expenses, the company can see what is working and what needs improvement. Storing employee information electronically and requiring the appropriate credentials to access timesheets and payroll can also improve security.
Commonly Automated HR Processes
You are familiar with the many duties and responsibilities of HR personnel, but you may not realize just how many of these duties can be automated. Using software for these common, and often tedious, tasks can save you both time and money.
Systems can track and manage employee timesheets automatically so that you can catch any issues before you try to run payroll. Automating the processes for managing and submitting timesheets results in faster and more accurate payroll calculations.
Paperwork and Forms
Nearly everything that HR manages requires some type of form or paperwork. It is especially important to maintain accurate forms like employee tax documents and new hire paperwork. HR automation allows you to keep all of these in one place.
Internal Email Updates
If there are any company-wide internal email updates, you can quickly get these out to everyone so that each employee is on the same page. Whether it is a company newsletter or notifications about payroll submissions, you can automate these processes so that employees do not have to wait for manual updates. That way you don’t miss important deadlines, but you don’t have to enter each employee's email every time there is an update.
Onboarding is a multi-stage process, including gathering various documents for employee verification and giving new hires access to crucial tools. By using automation software, HR can create a checklist that guides new employees through each step. It also makes it easier to collect documents electronically and share information with the necessary parties.
Conducting Exit Interviews
Just as the onboarding process sets employees up for success, the offboarding process can be used to improve the employee experience moving forward. Software that tracks and analyzes feedback from exit interviews allows HR managers to identify recurring problems and create actionable insights to improve employee engagement and retention.
Tracking Goals and Performance
Regular employee performance reviews can make all the difference in an employee’s success within the organization, but it can be a tedious process. HR automation tools streamline this process by providing clear standards for tracking and measuring employee performance. It helps create a bias-free review process that produces meaningful goals. One of the best things about HR automation for tracking goals and performance is that it allows employees to refer back to what was discussed so that they can stay on track with their goals.
Time Off and Leave Requests
More and more companies are encouraging employees to make the most of their time off. When requests are approved manually, they can get lost in someone’s inbox. HR must check the employee’s leave balance, get manager approval, and include the leave in payroll calculation, but automation makes this process much quicker and more accurate.
Healthcare benefits, retirement packages, and other unique benefits help attract top talent and ensure employee wellbeing. However, there is a lot that goes into managing these benefits. With HR automation software, employees can see what benefits are available to them and choose those that best fit their needs. They can access detailed information without relying on HR managers to answer basic questions. This frees up more time for HR to find additional benefits that employees can enjoy.
HR is responsible for many different types of records, and some of those records have specific regulations for how they are maintained. Automating the processes involved in maintaining records ensures that your organization complies with any relevant laws and regulations, as well as ensures greater record accuracy.
Managing Expense Reports
No business can run without generating expenses, and managing all of the expense reports falls to the HR department. HR automation reduces the chance of human error in these reports and allows for more efficient data sharing between departments.
How to Automate HR Processes
With so many responsibilities — recruiting and onboarding, training and development, managing employee benefits, payroll, and more — HR managers must decide where to focus their energy. Even with a small organization, it is unlikely that they can manage all of these processes and tasks with both efficiency and accuracy unless they automate some of them.
Automation in HR increases employee productivity and engagement by offering a smooth process for everything from onboarding to exit interviews. It also leads to consistent HR practices at every level of the organization and reduces the number of errors in data entry and record management. Especially given that AI is already changing HR, automation is here to stay. It's not a matter of if but how your organization will make the most of the available software and resources to stay on top of HR duties.
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- Fitzgibbons, Laura. (2021, December). HR Automation. TechTarget. Retrieved May 8, 2023 from https://www.techtarget.com/searchhrsoftware/definition/HR-automation.
- Jay, Shani. (2021, April 8). What Is HR Automation? A Guide with Practical Examples. AIHR. Retrieved May 8, 2023 from https://www.aihr.com/blog/hr-automation/.
- Kissflow. (2022, June 29). HR Automation - The Future of Human Resource Process Management. Retrieved May 8, 2023 from https://kissflow.com/hr/hr-process-guide/.
The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.